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what online brokers do you use?
Old 03-05-2011, 08:55 AM   #1
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what online brokers do you use?

I have not in the past owned any stock that I purchased personally. Do any of you use an online broker or site to buy and sell stocks? if so, which ones would be best and what would be the pros and cons of each?
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Old 03-05-2011, 09:22 AM   #2
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I've used Scottrade and now Vanguard. The former is $7/trade, transfers are fast. Vanguard takes days to clear transfers but trades of Vanguard MF's and ETF's are FREE!. As a buy:hold:rebalance invester of almost exclusively Vanguard funds/etf's Vanguard works fine for me, if I was moving money around a lot and doing many trades of non-Vanguard stocks/etf's/MF's then Scottrade works better. Wells Fargo also offers free trades once you have a minimal balance with them ($25k I think?).

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Old 03-05-2011, 09:53 AM   #3
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I use TD Ameritrade (was with TD Waterhouse before merger). There are no commissions on many ETFs, including the Vanguard ETFs I invest in primarily, but other trades are $9.99. Have always had good, relatively inexpensive service so have not changed brokers for this reason (along with the hassle factor).
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Old 03-05-2011, 10:16 AM   #4
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Vanguard! Use to use Etrade but have pretty much move away from them for the lower rates at Vanguard.
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Old 03-05-2011, 10:45 AM   #5
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Vanguard only.
I used to have a TDAmeritrade account. No complaints. I was a very infrequent "trader", i.e. mostly own mutual funds.
I consolidated all of my investments under one roof (VG) to simplify paperwork and online portfolio tracking.
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Old 03-05-2011, 11:02 AM   #6
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Wells Fargo is one of the best.
Pros:
Free trades on stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, including Vanguard funds..
Complete and accurate 1099s that give both cost basis and date acquired. Downloadable into TT. This makes taxes trivial.
Easy specific share identification when selling.
Very simple order entry.
Great linkage to your WellsFargo checking account. Move money fast on the same day.

Cons:
Need a PMA package with checking and minimum $25K combined in IRAs, brokerage, etc, but do not need $25K in cash.
No real-time level II quotes. Has real-time quotes, but not real-time level II quotes.
No complicated orders.

I also use TDAmeritrade which has several Vanguard ETFs with no commission, but requires you to hold the ETF for a couple of months or you pay a fee to recoup the lack of commissions. Also the 1099s are not as good and no free mutual fund trades.

Vanguard is good for mutual funds, but the separate Vanguard Brokerage Service (VBS) has free Vanguard ETF trades, but not free stock trades.

Both Schwab and Fidelity have a limited selection of no-commission ETFs.

BTW, some brokers tout their research and analysis tools. You can get all the research and analysis you need for free on the internet, so a broker doesn't need any tools.

Full disclosure: I have accounts at (and prefer in order) WF, TDAmeritrade, Fidelity, and Vanguard. I only buy/sell ETFs nowadays and not stocks. I do use mutual funds at Vanguard and in my 401(k).
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Old 03-05-2011, 11:05 AM   #7
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what sites do you use for research and analysis?
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Old 03-05-2011, 11:08 AM   #8
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Here are a few sites:
Bogleheads Investing Advice and Info
DFA vs. Vanguard
Vanguard - Mutual funds, IRAs, ETFs, 401(k) plans, and more
Morningstar Stock, Mutual Fund, Hedge Fund, ETF Investment Research
finance.yahoo.com
Google
The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia
online.wsj.com
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Old 03-05-2011, 11:16 AM   #9
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Quote:
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what sites do you use for research and analysis?
www.sec.gov (look for EDGAR for company filings)
Investor relations websites of the companies I am interested in
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Old 03-05-2011, 12:17 PM   #10
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I use TD Ameritrade (was with TD Waterhouse before merger). There are no commissions on many ETFs, including the Vanguard ETFs I invest in primarily, but other trades are $9.99. Have always had good, relatively inexpensive service so have not changed brokers for this reason (along with the hassle factor).
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Wells Fargo is one of the best....
I primarily use TD Ameritrade (everything outside 401k's) as well; but, I keep considering opening a WF account for all of the reasons outlined by LOL!
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Old 03-05-2011, 12:30 PM   #11
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I primarily use TD Ameritrade (everything outside 401k's) as well; but, I keep considering opening a WF account for all of the reasons outlined by LOL!
I'm considering do the same! I'm a TD Ameritrade APEX member, but it doesn't seem to really get you anything worthwhile other than free wire transfers. I hate that they make me beg to get any free trades or to extend my exp. dates on my free trades. Wells Fargo gives you 100 free trades/year with that PMA package makes me want to switch. Also use Fidelity to trade whenever I get free trades from them too, but I have to transfer a big enough amount of assets to get any from them. I also get free wire transfers from Fidelity Private Access level.
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Old 03-05-2011, 12:48 PM   #12
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You get real-time Level II quotes for free at TDAmeritrade. I almost never place a trade at Wells Fargo without using the CommandCenter at TDAmeritrade to help set my limit price, see my WF order appear in the order book, and see it executed. Those things cannot be seen in real-time with the simple system at WF. You may not need the real-time info at all, but I like the extra information I get.

Now that TDAmeritrade offers free trades on many ETFs, I see it as a very viable brokerage to use. I don't see any reason to own individual stocks when ETFs offer so much more diversification.

I guess I'm saying that if you already have a TDAmeritrade account, you may be disappointed with WellsFargo. But you could have accounts at a few places like I do.

(Although I keep some assets at TDAmeritrade, I only make about 2 trades every 10 years or so. Thus, keeping this account as a backup broker really doesn't cost me anything.

And another note: I usually make less than 12 trades a year in all my accounts, so I am not a frequent trader anyways.)
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Old 03-05-2011, 01:20 PM   #13
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You get real-time Level II quotes for free at TDAmeritrade. I almost never place a trade at Wells Fargo without using the CommandCenter at TDAmeritrade to help set my limit price, see my WF order appear in the order book, and see it executed. Those things cannot be seen in real-time with the simple system at WF. You may not need the real-time info at all, but I like the extra information I get.

Now that TDAmeritrade offers free trades on many ETFs, I see it as a very viable brokerage to use. I don't see any reason to own individual stocks when ETFs offer so much more diversification.

I guess I'm saying that if you already have a TDAmeritrade account, you may be disappointed with WellsFargo. But you could have accounts at a few places like I do.

(Although I keep some assets at TDAmeritrade, I only make about 2 trades every 10 years or so. Thus, keeping this account as a backup broker really doesn't cost me anything.

And another note: I usually make less than 12 trades a year in all my accounts, so I am not a frequent trader anyways.)
From what you're describing, I trade with about the same frequency that you do. Since I have a significant amount of assets with TD, they always call me up and want to offer me free trades, probably so I won't leave. Since I don't trade a lot, they expire on me more than I ever use them. I don't really use level II much, it's nice to have these tools, but I'm still a buy/hold investor. I think these are best for day trader types. TD recently flagged my account thinking I was a day trader begging for extra free trades until they realized that I hadn't made any trades for 3-4 years! I think this describes how clueless some of the reps are at TD and I'm an APEX (high asset level) client! Also, my reps at TD seem to turnover about 3 reps/year. The last one tried to build me a bond portfolio, except the bond person left/got fired right after our call. Then there was a mass scramble to try to explain what happened by adding more people to the mix. I ended up not doing anything w/the bond team at TD, they didn't seem to know what was happening. I'm not really all that happy w/their service compared to Fidelity Private Access, where I have a dedicated team assigned to me. At least at Fidelity, we've been given all kinds of freebies this past year, got to do a Wrigley Field tour w/all u can eat at the ballpark and free tix to the Billy Elliot play. These kinds of free perks will get me to stay vs. TD's attitude of making me beg and pay for stuff. Also, Fidelity gets me access to IPO offerings, and muni bond offerings before they hit the open market. I've tried getting these thru TD, but they've never been able to offer any in the 15+ years I've been with them.

I probably want to do the same you're doing, use Wells Fargo to lower my trading fees, since I'll never hit 100/trades/year. I definitely want to reduce my holdings at TD for sure.
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Old 03-05-2011, 01:37 PM   #14
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Dimsumkid, how did you get all those perks? My team never offered me any tickets to any events? My WFC rep on the other hand asked me if I want any Lakers tickets.

LOL: How do you compare Fido Active Trader Pro vs. WFC? I do not have brokerage account at WFC, only savings.

mP
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Old 03-05-2011, 01:41 PM   #15
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Dimsumkid, how did you get all those perks? My team never offered me any tickets to any events? My WFC rep on the other hand asked me if I want any Lakers tickets.

LOL: How do you compare Fido Active Trader Pro vs. WFC? I do not have brokerage account at WFC, only savings.

mP
My private access team calls me up whenever some special event is being offered and asks me if I'd be interested in attending. I never knew these were available. I belonged to another team for over 10 years at Fidelity, never got invited to anything other than basic seminars w/light lunches 1-2 times/year.

Looking back, the Wrigley Field event was awfully special...we got to play softball on the field, toured the facilities, met Ron Santo (has since passed) shook his hand, took a photo w/him and he signed our baseballs (provided by Fidelity too). Fidelity also has wine/cheese tastings, but we never go. I think each location has a discretionary marketing budget to spend on it's clients, like I mentioned, my previous one never did anything like this at all. Funny, I ran into her at the Wrigley event, she didn't even recognize me even though she was my private rep for over 10+ years!
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Old 03-05-2011, 02:04 PM   #16
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I would never sacrifice quality service and good processes for a few dollars saved on commissions, unless I were a day trader. It is like picking up pennies on the sidewalk.

We are either working hard, or retired and presumably have interesting, fulfilling things to do.

Ha
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Old 03-05-2011, 02:56 PM   #17
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I've had a few, starting with Datek, then Ameritrade (pre-merger), Sharebuilder (just to understand their model). I like Fidelity, Etrade (I bank and make that my "hub" for transfers / bill pay) & get Level II tickers there.
I would imagine all are similar. I don't get any return to speak of if my cash is sitting in Etrade, so I use Rewards Checking for my cash & get 2-3.5%...

Trading at any of them are a similar experience; I use Yahoo Finance & Google Finance for most of my research. Google sometimes has information that Yahoo doesn't. For example, CMG had a good note from Goldman Sachs on 3/4 that helped it go up $8 that day...Yahoo didn't even mention it or much of anything on that day...so I just look at both for various articles to read / research.

My goal is to get enough dividend income to get me $50k annually to finance my ER; we are 1/2 there at 40...
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Old 03-05-2011, 03:41 PM   #18
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I'm very happy with Fidelity.
I've used Vanguard (and have an account with them, but long ago decided they were only good for their own funds, and their customer service is the second worst i've ever experienced), TD Ameritrade, Schwab, Siebert (the absolutely worst customer service), E-Trade, Scottrade, and USAA.

Fidelity customer service is far and away the best of any, in my experience. They also have great research available, and since I don't trade that often, I'm quite happy with $7.95 per trade.

When I have a problem or a question, I can make a phone call and they will immediately be on top if it, and often stay on the line with me to walk me through things. Once, not long ago, I accidentally clicked the wrong field when doing a fairly complex transaction. I got another phone call ten minutes later, because they followed up and noticed what I did, so they reversed it and made sure I did it the way I should have. That's great service.
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Old 03-05-2011, 03:49 PM   #19
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LOL: How do you compare Fido Active Trader Pro vs. WFC? I do not have brokerage account at WFC, only savings.

mP
I have not used Fido Active Trader pro. I got my daughter into a Fidelity Roth IRA and helped her buy some no-commission ETFs. That interface was not much more capable than the Wells Fargo order submission page. I'm sure Fidelity must have something lots better. (I have a 401(k) at Fidelity and like the Retirement Income Planner and the Income Strategy Planner tools.)

Like Dimsumkid, our TDAm account is Apex level (though they have had to lower Apex level since 2008 and let the riffraff get perks). We have had an account with them (nee TDWaterhouse) since 1994. The local office reps call or e-mail us about once a year, but we never take the call nor respond in any way.

As for quality of service, I have to say that WellsFargo is superb. I know this since I see my orders in real-time from the TDAm interface. I have often gotten better prices than expected. For example, yesterday I sold 724 shares of something lightly traded with a limit order. The trade completed with 5 partial share transactions. The first transaction for 25 shares was 2 cents above the real-time bid at the time. OK, that was only a 50 cent deal, but it showed that their trading platform isn't obviously trying to rip me off. Furthermore in the past, I have even gotten a sell price higher than the reported high for the day and a buy price lower than the reported low for the day. I conclude that as far as trading executions go, WF is great. The connection to banking is great, but not as good as the old TDWaterhouse Bank / TDWaterhouse Broker connection. We have many WF banks in our neighborhood, so it is extremely convenient to have almost all our most-used finances at one place: checking, bill pay, brokerage, mortgage, kids' accounts.

Also I like the WF statements the best of all my accounts. The year-end 1099s are easy to read and understand plus they download into TurboTax essentially complete. I don't have to enter the missing data like I do for Vanguard and TDAmeritrade.
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Old 03-05-2011, 05:10 PM   #20
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I'm also a happy Fidelity customer. I used to have retirement and non-retirement accounts at several places, but in the interest of simplifying and consolidating, I've moved as much as I can over to Fidelity.

I am not a frequent trader, although I do place orders from time to time. I use mutual funds, stocks, and the occasional options.

Among the things I like about them is that, while they have contacted me to let me know I have enhanced support as a "Premium" account holder, they do not bug me with further attempts to generate business. When I have contacted them, though, they've always been helpful and courteous.

I maintain accounts at Vanguard (a Roth IRA opened when they were first offered, so my longest-tenured Roth), Royce Funds, and T. Rowe Price (administrator of my employer's deferred compensation plan, so no other choice, although I do like their Morningstar tool offerings). I think they are all good, but as I said for simplicity most is at Fidelity.
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